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Senator Wyden Attacks CIA Redaction Demands As 'Unprecedented'

from the unprecedented-problems-may-need-unprecedented-solutions dept

It’s well known that CIA’s been stalling over the release of the officially declassified 480 page “executive summary” of the 6,300 page CIA torture report, put together by staffers of the Senate Intelligence Committee over many years at a cost of $40 million. It’s known that the report is somewhat devastating to the CIA and the CIA isn’t happy about it (at all). Originally, the CIA suggested redactions that made the report incomprehensible, even as James Clapper said it was “just 15%” that was redacted. Recent reports have focused on the fight over redacting pseudonyms. Apparently the CIA wants all names, including pseudonyms redacted, while the Senate Intelligence Committee thinks that pseudonyms (but not real names) should be left in so that the report accurately reflects if the actions were done by a large number of diverse individuals, or by some particular individuals again and again and again. The CIA, likely employing some sort of “mosaic theory” claim, say that they’re worried that even with pseudonyms, identifying the same person in a few different situations will make it easier for some to figure out who they are.

In response, Senator Ron Wyden has attacked the CIA’s position and noted that it’s “unprecedented” and that plenty of other, similar, reports have made use of pseudonyms, without a problem.

The CIA?s current opposition to using pseudonyms runs contrary to decades of precedent.  U.S. government agencies have used pseudonyms to protect agents? identities in public reports going back decades, including:

So why does the CIA seem to think it’s such a problem here? Well, mainly because the CIA is willing to do just about anything to stop this report, perhaps in an effort to run out the clock until some more “CIA friendly” Senators take over. Still, it seems that the more the CIA fights over this, the more and more likely it is that someone is just going to leak the damn report, and it may reveal a lot more than what’s currently on the table.

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Comments on “Senator Wyden Attacks CIA Redaction Demands As 'Unprecedented'”

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34 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

i think the answer is reasonably straight forward. just like all the other ‘security forces’ in the USA, the CIA thinks that it is not only unanswerable to the law, that it can change it as and when it wants to, into whatever it wants to. the USA is in all honesty turning into a nation where absolutely nothing is as important as having security that can do whatever the hell it likes, and treat even those in government let alone anyone else, in ways that would make certain nation ex-leaders (if they were still alive) cringe with fear!

AricTheRed says:

Perhaps I am naive and obtuse, however...

Couldn’t one of the Senators, on the committee, just begin reading the executive summary during debate of some thing or another, and make it a matter of record?

It is the senate intelligence committee’s report. They voted to declassify it, don’t that make it de-classified?

I would think that from the CIA’s perspective that would be as good as wholly redacted as someone would have to be watching C-Span to notice.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Perhaps I am naive and obtuse, however...

They could, yes, but they were complete and utter morons and decided to let the CIA and WH weigh in before actually doing what they should have from the very beginning.

Seriously, how insanely stupid do you have to be to give the very agency who’s actions the report is covering veto power over just what is and is now ‘allowed’ to be released?

‘Well let’s see, this, this and this make us look bad, remove all of it. Oh, this exposes some actions of dubious legality we did, gotta make sure to take that out. And this shows how we blatantly lied to the ones meant to oversee us in order to continue to do whatever we felt like, definitely going to have to remove that…’

What takes this to truly legendary levels of idiocy is they aren’t even fighting to stop the release of the ‘main’ report, the really damning one with all the details, but the ‘executive summary’, the condensed version that was meant to be released.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Perhaps I am naive and obtuse, however...

If China decided to wage war against the US all it would have to do is cut off all trades , you can’t purchase anything that doesn’t have Chinese components, even our food is coming from them McDonalds for example poison the meat and half of all Americans would die,Mcdonalds would just say oops and the Chinese invasion could begin.

Coyne Tibbets (profile) says:

Compromise

Given their concerns, I would suggest a compromise. No names, no pseudonyms except: senior agency policymakers, general counsel, head of the CIA, cabinet positions or above.

For people lower in the hierarchy, names and pseudonyms may be removed, but an “authority class” should be used in place. For example: agent, senior agent, clandestine agent, foreign agent, foreign senior agent, and etc. The classes assigned should reflect the individual’s tier in the CIA or foreign authority hierarchy.

The purpose of this compromise would be to overcome most of the name/pseudonym objections, retaining only those names that are top-level public policymakers, so we can assess the legality of their actions. For lower level people, it should clarify the authority position for assessment of the control hierarchy, without allowing identification of individuals.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Compromise

The CIA will not accept any ‘compromise’ that leaves any damning details in the report, because after all, why would they? Why accept any ‘compromise’ when they can just stall and delay and stall some more, until finally those involved are too tired to fight and just give in and let the CIA re-write and redact the report until it suits them?

Jeremiah says:

Mosaic Theory

“[The CIA is] worried that even with pseudonyms, identifying the same person in a few different situations will make it easier for some to figure out who they are.”

Please, in order to identify anybody, you’d need to match it against a dossier on them constructed from metadata about their movements, conversations, and … oh.

David says:

What would happen with pseudonyms:

Pseudonyms would make it possible for the world to figure the veritable Dr Mengeles, those who were acting repeatedly, systematically and sadistically in the CIA, and put out international warrants for crimes against humanity.

And with international arrest warrants and an international interest, connecting the dots for deducing the real identity behind a pseudonymous identity might indeed be possible.

But the U.S.A. loves and protects their war criminals in the “war against terrorism”, or any other war. And they want to keep them doing their job, humanity be damned. Obama has already called them out as heroes.

I don’t think anybody called Dr Mengele a hero even while he was still active, and he had to find asylum far away from Germany when his job ended.

What did your grandparents even fight for?

GEMont (profile) says:

Re: What would happen with pseudonyms:

“What did your grandparents even fight for?”

To make the millionaires running Shell Oil, Alcoa, Ford and a few dozen other industries, into billionaires.

That is what all wars are fought for. Money. Power.

The children of the men who made millions in profit from WW1 could hardly wait to start WW2 and they made billions off that war.

The wars we have today, while prevented from becoming World Wars by the advent of Atomic Weapons (you cannot spend radio-active gold), are still big enough that the US had to borrow billions from China to pay for the un-declared invasion of Iraq.

The children of the WW2 billionaires still make a fortune from these little wars – from the sale of war toys and the hidden criminal activity that always accompanies a war.

Yes Marjorie, daddy and grandpa died in the wars so that US millionaires could become billionaires.

Anonymous Coward says:

So release the whole thing

Absolutely unredacted in any way. Name names, and let the chips fall where they may. So a few CIA agents might be outed and possibly killed by their counterparts working for other governments? Quite acceptable. They’re expendable, they know they’re expendable, and they VOLUNTEERED to be expendable.

What’s not expendable is the truth. Every word in those documents is the property of the American people, and it must be handed over to us without any further delay.

Pixelation says:

What will be exposed...

1. Huge waste of money
2. Huge waste of time
3. Unnecessarily torturing human beings, without any due process of law. (This is a tool used by oppressive regimes and terrorists)
4. More attempts at manipulating foreign governments by supplying weapons and aid to borderline terrorists (which always turns out well. I believe it’s what got us into this in the first place…)

stimoceiver (profile) says:

wonder whats in there thats such a big deal???

Must be some awfully innovative “interrogation techniques” they’re trying to hide.

Just a guess (really) but I’ll bet this particular rabbit hole runs significantly deeper than just waterboarding or clamping electrodes to scrotums. MKDELTA and MKULTRA were just the beginning. Thats so vintage mid-century. Count on heavy use of drugs and sophisticated electronics for this torture session you won’t be able to remember later.

GEMont (profile) says:

Re: wonder whats in there thats such a big deal???

“…MKDELTA and MKULTRA were just the beginning.”

Methinks that quite the opposite is the case and its that fact precisely which is causing all the near panic at the top of the food chain.

I think the report will show that, like a bunch of delinquent kids left on an island to fend for themselves, these officially condoned idiot torturers were just torturing people for fun and giggles – trying to outdo each other by coming up with new ways to make their victims suffer.

I think the report will show that there really was no actual expectation of “gaining intel”, or wresting useful confessions from the prisoners/victims. They were just inventing new and different ways to cause pain.

I think it was just a modern american horror story and the Boys At The Top do not want the world to see just how childish, immature and irresponsible they really are.

Of course the reality of it all is that we will likely never know. How long did they legally bury the facts behind the Kennedy Assassination – to protect the guilty?

I figure this report – if it ever gets released at all – will likely double that length of time…. unless some awesome individual and true American Patriot finally decides to leak the un-redacted 1600 page version onto the internet.

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